|Written by Jason Miller|
Place premiered Booth Theatre
Playwright Jason Miller
Original language English language
|Date premiered 14 September 1972|
First performance 14 September 1972
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama
|Characters The Coach
Adaptations That Championship Season (1982), That Championship Season (1999)
Similar The Teahouse of the Au, The Shrike, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Look Homeward - Angel, The Young Man from Atlanta
That championship season 1982 pt 1
That Championship Season is a 1972 play by Jason Miller. It was the recipient of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
- That championship season 1982 pt 1
- Star studded cast revives that championship season
- Plot synopsis
- Off Broadway (1972)
- Broadway (1972 1974)
- Off Broadway revival (1999)
- Broadway revival (2011)
- Film adaptations
Star studded cast revives that championship season
The setting is 1972 at the Coach's home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
On the twentieth anniversary of their victory in the Pennsylvania state championship game, four members of the starting lineup of a Catholic high school basketball team have gathered to celebrate. The coach is terminally ill, and this reunion may be their last chance to reminisce with him. However, the fifth member of the starting lineup, Martin (who made the game-winning shot), has refused to attend the reunion; he bears a grudge against the Coach, for reasons that do not become clear until late in the play.
George Sitkowski has become Scranton's mayor, but he has proven inept and unpopular, and he is likely to lose his bid for re-election. The fact that his challenger is Jewish is particularly galling to him.
Phil Romano has become a millionaire in the strip-mining business, using his close ties to Mayor Sitkowski to obtain mining permits. Though Romano helps George financially, he is carrying on an affair with George's wife.
James Daley is a local junior high school principal; his brother Tom is an unsuccessful, embittered, cynical alcoholic and ne'er-do-well writer.
None of the men's lives have turned out as any of them had hoped, and, on some level, all still look to the Coach for guidance. The Coach has always been the embodiment of old-school Catholicism (Senator Joseph McCarthy and Father Charles Coughlin are heroes of his), the one person in their lives who was sure of everything, and his absolute certainty and confidence gave them a sense of security. While the Coach thought he was teaching his players how to be men, it appears that these middle-aged men are still emotional adolescents who need the Coach to tell them how to live their lives. But the Coach's pep talks, which had always inspired them, are beginning to sound hollow. Only now, these many years later, do the men begin to suspect that the Coach was a bigot, a bully, and a bit of a fraud.
The play made its off-Broadway debut at the Estelle Newman Theatre on May 2, 1972, where it ran for 144 performances, closing on September 3, 1972. It was directed by A.J. Antoon, and it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
A transfer of the off-Broadway production opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, running for 700 performances, opening on September 14, 1972, and closing on April 21, 1974. This production won the 1973 New York Drama Critics' Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Award for Best Play.The production starred Richard Dysart, Charles Durning, Paul Sorvino and Michael McGuire .
Off-Broadway revival (1999)
A short-lived off-Broadway revival played from April 21 to May 2, 1999, at the Second Stage Theatre. It was directed by Scott Ellis, with lighting by Kenneth Posner, and it lasted for 14 performances.
Broadway revival (2011)
Gregory Mosher directed a revival of the play on Broadway at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. Previews began on February 9, 2011, with limited engagement from March 6 to May 29, 2011. It starred Brian Cox as Coach, Jim Gaffigan as George Sikowski, Chris Noth as Phil Romano, Jason Patric (Miller's son) as Tom Daley and Kiefer Sutherland as James Daley. Highlights of the production were released on February 25, 2011. The revival met with a lukewarm reception from the critics.
At the time of its premiere, That Championship Season was a critical success, though a few dissenters had problems with certain aspects of the play. Those who liked the play complimented its humor, dialogue, and characters. Reviewing the Broadway production, Clive Barnes of the New York Times wrote, "Mr. Miller has a perfect ear and instinct for the rough and tumble profanity of locker-room humor. The coarsely elegant gibes go along with Mr. Miller’s indictment of a society, which opens with an ironic playing of the National Anthem and then lacerates the sickness of small-town America full of bigotry, double-dealing, racism and hate."
Miller wrote and directed the film adaptation of the play that was released in 1982. Robert Mitchum starred as the Coach, replacing William Holden, who had died before filming began. Bruce Dern, Stacy Keach, Martin Sheen, and Paul Sorvino completed the cast. In 1999, Miller wrote another screenplay for television that was directed by Paul Sorvino, who also played the Coach. This version also starred Vincent D'Onofrio, Terry Kinney, Tony Shalhoub, and Gary Sinise, and the latter was a co-producer.